Uber abandons SF self-driving pilot

Uber officials Thursday said they have sent their self-driving Volvos to Arizona for a pilot program there after a test in San Francisco was shut down by the state Department of Motor Vehicles due to a lack of proper permits.

The ride-booking company announced the move to Arizona one day after it canceled its test of self-driving cars in San Francisco.

A company spokesperson said in a statement:

“Our cars departed for Arizona this morning by truck…We’ll be expanding our self-driving pilot there in the next few weeks, and we’re excited to have the support of Governor (Doug) Ducey.”

The company, which is based in San Francisco, canceled its pilot there one week after it began when the DMV said it was revoking the registration on a fleet of 16 “self-driving” Volvo XC90s.

DMV officials said the cars were not properly registered as test vehicles and could not be registered legally unless Uber applied for an autonomous vehicle testing permit.

Uber has steadfastly refused to apply for a testing permit, arguing that its vehicles do not qualify legally as autonomous because they require monitoring by drivers.

Uber vice president Anthony Levandowski has called the stance a “matter of principle,” but critics have suggested the company may wish to avoid reporting test data, as would be required under the state permit program.

The debut of Uber’s self-driving vehicles drew safety concerns following multiple reports of the vehicles running red lights.

In addition, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition executive director Brian Wiedenmeier has said that in a demonstration of the vehicles he participated in, they took unsafe right turns through a bike lane more than once without merging properly. The coalition launched a petition among its members calling on Uber to address unsafe turning issue in the self-driving vehicles.